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bheethi/paramapada-sOpAnam

From: M K Sudarshan (sudarsan_at_batelco.com.bh)
Date: Sat Feb 01 1997 - 00:26:13 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNE namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s',

The journey up the "stairway" of 'paramapada' as described by Swami Desikan,
we saw, has taken us so far from "vivekam" at the bottom -- (this often
reminds me of 'alipiri' at the foot of my native Tirumalai Hills!; for it is
only when one has become a 'vivEki' that one would find oneself at the foot
of the Seven Hills, isn't it ?)-- from 'vivekam' at the bottom to 'virakthi'
at Step # 3 where we presently are perched.

At this stage in the journey an aspirant is known to be entirely detached
from the clutches of earthly existence. He hankers not for all the delights
of this world.

He does not even have an appetite for 'kaivalya' -- that rare inner ecstasy
experienced by the Self that has thrown off the shackles of worldly dependence .

The aspirant's sights are now, instead, firmly set on Lord Narayana alone.

But at precisely this stage in life the SriVaishnava aspirant suddenly falls
victim to a strange fear-psychosis called "bheethi".

Now, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', on the subject of FEAR Swami Desikan was an
expert-therapist. A hymn called "a-bheeti-stava" of his can be said to be a
most scientific, modern and graphic treatise on the psycho-pathology of
FEAR.(A highly abridged essay of mine on this subject appeared in the latest
issue of "NA nrsumha-priya"). For a full treatment of "bheethi", as a human
failing, Swami Desikan's "abheeti-stavam" is highly recommended reading for
everyone -- even non-SriVaishnavas. Also, its constant recitation
('anusandAnam' or 'pArAyaNam') by those of the Faith serves them as an
unfailing session of self-administered psycho-therapy whenever needed. (To
me, personally, it is what a daily dose of "intravenous insulin" is to a
chronic diabetic-patient !)

To come back to 'PPS', the 4th step Swami Desikan calls :'bheethi'.

In this stage the aspirant is overcome by "holy terror" (to use a phrase by
the English philosopher, William James) because while he realizes that
earthly existence is NULL he, however, finds nothing from the heavens to
fill the VOID.

He realizes the presence of Lord Narayana, but is beset by doubt if the
Lord, the "Abode of ALL Auspiciousness", would ever deign to accept one as
imperfect and infirm as himself. 

He sees the vast chasm of 'samsAra', and of his own 'karma', that still lies
separating him and the Lord; and the very thought of it makes him give up
all hope of ever being able to cross it. Instead all he can feel is the
disease of temporality gripping him, like fatal gangrene, ever more firmly
and inextricably. He doubts if he will ever be able to break loose. 

Even if he did succeed would the Lord ever consider his incorrigible self
"eligible" for redemption ?

What then is the value of even such measures like 'gnana', 'karma' or
'bhakti' ? 

These and other complex feelings of 'bheethi' are sketched by Swami Desikan
in the 'abhiti-stavam' a sample of which is given below (Verse #16):
               
               anUkshaNa samUthithE durita-vAridhow dUstarE
                  yadi kvachana nishkritirbhavathi sApi dOshAvilA    I
               thadItha-magathow mayi pratividhAna-mAdhIyathAm
                  svabUddhi-parikalpitham kimapi rangadhUrya tvaya   II

Sri.ParAshara-bhattar, in his "ashta-shlOki" (Verse #7) is also seen to be
expressing such "fearful doubts" over the efficacy of scriptural 'upAya-s'.

Eventually, however, an aspirant,by the Grace of the Lord, is enabled to
leap over Step # 4 viz. the hurdle of 'bheeti', to the next "step" on the
stairway called "prasadana parva".

We shall discuss how in the next posting.

srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathIdnra mahadesikaya namaha

sudarshan